The Power of Pause

November 25, 2007

This weekend, I didn’t get all those posts written like I’d hoped. I didn’t get the garage cleaned or find time to finish my Christmas shopping. I didn’t rake up the leaves or do any yard work. I didn’t do a lot of things I planned on.

Instead, I made sugar cookies and put up my Christmas tree with my family. I went to visit my grandparents and played a very intense game of Risk for four hours only to call a draw. I learned to play Farkle when my boyfriend taught it to – everyone, including me, my parents, grandparents, brother, sister, and their significant others. I cooked a great big pot of soup and hand made about $500’s worth of jewelry for a Christmas charity fundraiser. I ate Sunday brunch at a new hole in the wall Brazilian cafe.

I took time out from my to-do lists, my goals, my constant go. And it was wonderful.

My only complaint is that I didn’t give in to it fully until late in the game. And mostly, that means I worried for a long time about all those other things I wasn’t getting done.

But here I am, at the last 30 minutes of my holiday weekend, thinking how it was not at all what I planned but at the same time just what I needed. A bit of a pause from the normal.

Because there’s power in pause. It gives clarity, retrains focus onto what really matters, and gives you energy and excitement. So, if you haven’t already in the past few days, give yourself permission to relax, to reflect, to marinate in all the great things of life . . .  to pause.

Get ready, Monday. Here I come.  

Motion vs. Mission

October 30, 2007

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

– Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

As simple as it sounds, choosing to go in a certain direction can be tough. Because it’s not really actually about the decision itself. The complicated part comes with where your decision will lead you. The path it puts you on.

The enormity of most decisions can be paralyzing.

But maybe there’s a little bit of deeper wisdom from the Cat in this Lewis Carrol tale than simply that one must know where they want to go in order to get there. If one wants to get anywhere at all, one must choose a path. Of course, when it’s possible, planning, thinking strategically, making wise choices is important. Don’t write that off.

But maybe sometimes it really doesn’t matter much where you go, as long as you are moving.

So today, I discovered a very interesting concept called Neurobics. Brain aerobics, I suppose. Anyway, it’s great. So, I thought I’d share.

Basically, Neurobics, developed by Lawrence C. Katz and Manning Rubin, is all about harnessing the power of “new” to sharpen your brain functioning. They wrote a book called Keep Your Brain Alive which talks about several ways you can help your brain satisfy its urge to form connections by helping it form new connections.

Here’s what they say on their website: “Making multi-sensory associations, and doing something novel that is important or engaging to you – these are the key conditions for a genuine Neurobic exercise.”

The keys seem to be to involve your senses, keep your attention, and break a routine in an unexpected way. Read here for more on this.

 

Anyway, I fell in love with the idea. I’m a big advocate of engaging your brain, playing, of doing whatever you can to continually learn and stay sharp. But I also don’t have a ton of time to spend in that area. Which is why I love their simple tips. Check out a few:

 

1. Try something with your eyes closed. For example, walking from your car to your house when you get home from work. I did a version of this, years ago, when I visited a concept restaurant in Berlin with a friend. We ate an entire meal in the absolute, utter darkness. We were served by blind servers who didn’t have trouble getting around in the dark. We listened and wondered how close all the tables were, because our ears were so tuned in without sight, everyone seemed to be mere inches away. We smelled and tasted and wondered what we were eating, drinking. Their menu doesn’t specify, instead using riddles to describe each meal (vegetarian, poultry, meat, etc.) It was brilliant. It was compelling. It certainly engaged my brain.

2. Use the other hand. Maybe not the best tip for the practiced ambidextrous citizens out there, but for me, along with probably most of the population, the simple task of brushing my teeth would be a challenge with my left hand. On occasion, I’ve tried scribbling my name this way. But I’ve never gone a whole day that way, like they suggest. Sounds like a learning experience to me. And definitely something new. Also try out using a can opener, a hammer, who knows, the options are endless.

3. Do normal a new way. Anything is up for grabs with this, really. They recommend driving a new way to work or eating an entire meal with your family in utter silence – the idea is to rely on visual cues to indicate what you need. Essentially, making small changes in your routine can help you grow your brain. Which I love to hear! I’m rearranging my desk right now so that my calendar’s on the opposite side and things are all in new places. Isn’t is wonderful that something like that counts?

 

So, maybe it’s not a reset button, but it’s a start.